Leadership Update FEB 2023


Taiwo Afuape – Training Director

Nana Bonsu – Leadership Director

Sumita Dutta – International Learning Director

Rachel Watson – Strategy Partnerships Director

Ashley Reid- Chief Operating Officer



We have invited and co-ordinated systemic professionals to contribute to IFT as a place where we can influence the future of the profession for the good of as many people as possible. We want to develop areas of training that are directly connected to wider systemic areas of influence such as community and social justice initiatives, and ecological action, and remain robust and rigorous in our teaching of systemic family therapy.



As a snapshot, in the last month IFT has shared life changing ideas of systemic practice with 320 people on courses and trainings. Imagine the impact if all of them see at least two families a week, we train new people every month in the year.

Our trainees talk about the impact on them of our trainings when they work with colleagues, teams, organisations and especially families.

“(To the trainers) you have been brilliant. So patient and considerate to our learning. I have come a long way personally and professionally.”

“Thank you so much for your support. The course has been very interesting and really helps me in my work with families.”

“Should be compulsory for all in any management role…Inspirational and motivational learning.”

“Amazing Course particularly due to the tutor who made it easier to understand.”

“Brilliant course and trainers.”

“Thank you to the trainers for enhance my practice and courage to do the best I can for my clients or their family.”

“The course has been excellent. Thank you to the trainers for their support and their availability to answer questions. They are very knowledgeable and have enhanced my knowledge on systemic practice.”

“It has been a privilege to work with IFT on the issues that are at the core of developing a systemic organisation.”

We were delighted to see the feedback for all our courses being so positive, as ever, and thank our many wonderful teachers, trainers, trainees, and contributors.

IFT’s tutors and trainees have shown how much systemic professionals are keen to extend the way we collaborate to address who, how, and where we train people to make a real difference to the future of the profession. We make it possible now for those who are interested in teaching and training to work with experienced people to gain new skills and confidence in systemic training and build on our sense of team in our trainers and tutors who work so hard and with great generosity for IFT. If you are interested in joining us, please do talk to us.



Our December update outlined our current dilemmas regarding qualifying level courses and no decisions have been made. We would like to reiterate some of the issues here and let you know about the current position.

As some other smaller training providers have experienced, University fees are prohibitive to our sustainability, and universities run so much more as businesses than they used to, so the support that is provided for our investment has greatly diminished. For example, for us this meant reduced learning resources and support for students, and little external moderation of our work, and no support with standards submissions. Courses are also constrained in content. While we acknowledge this is not the experience of all training courses our work with potential partners has not supported the changes we want to make as a small training provider hoping to widen access to the profession. While for many people it is important to achieve an MSc, many people just want to train, and qualify as a psychotherapist.

We continue to work on issues raised by our members and by AFT that will inform our eventual decision making:

External moderation: how will IFT show our equivalence without university moderation?
We believe we will be more robustly moderated using different advisory boards made up of different academics and professionals from organisations who are interested in helping us such as other training organisations, higher education standards organisations, and Institutes within academic centres.

Will NHS grading’s and equivalence to psychology will be threatened because of this? Not according to the NHS if we can show equivalence; if we can prove equivalence the
NHS has said this is not what they are concerned with. We are currently working with the NHS to ensure we are well placed, and if we were to make a decision regarding a course without an MSc then we would be able to reassure people about employability.

Will we be creating a two Tier system with some people viewed as ‘better than’ others?
We believe this is in the gift of the profession. We are the only psychotherapy modality where there is only one route in, through one organisation’s accreditation. Other psychotherapies do not

have this constraint and do not experience tiered systems.


At IFT we think we will attract people into the training who currently think these courses are not ‘for them’, and increase representation in the profession that is so important for families of different backgrounds. We were not convinced that the HEE funding that
was given for training posts in the NHS resulted in increasing access and diversity – our experience was rather the reverse. Currently approximately 16% of family therapy posts are currently unfilled in the NHS, and we are certainly at risk in different settings of our posts being taken by other professions and losing systemic input.

We know that there is a ‘treatment gap’ in the UK where the most vulnerable families are not seen in statutory settings. They are not accessing help at all let alone from the most qualified people able to address complex issues. This needs to change and systemic practitioners, we believe, should be contributing to address this injustice.

Ideologically IFT wants to be part of necessary change in the system as a whole and believe that the profession is lagging behind current thinking and movements towards increased accessibility. Rather jarring with our core values as a profession. While some of our decision making is also economically necessary in a challenging climate (understandable and common for smaller organisations who are independent of statutory constraints) it is in line with

the direction we want to take as independent and able to work with diversity and inclusivity in a meaningful way that creates
real change. Smaller providers won’t be able to provide family therapy training at all if the current climate continues including the constraints placed upon us.

We are currently working with the UKCP and after this phase is complete we will be able to make a decision as to whether we can run with our preferred direction or not. We think this will depend on whether the profession and mainstream services are ready

to support this kind of change and ensure our trainees are not
in any way disadvantaged during the transition. We will balance this decision making using ethical systemic thinking and outside expertise and advice.



We will soon be launching our Leadership Course, with Nana Bonsu bringing her experience, skills, and energy to what will be a wonderful course. You can have a look at the prospectus by clicking in the link below.


We are delighted that our Practice Trainings – Putting Social Justice Ideas into Practice is out. https://ift.org.uk/workshops-conferences

Nana is also part of this programme. Her 1-day event can be viewed via the link below

Managing the undercurrents of management and leadership (1 day)

Institute of Family Therapy (ift.org.uk)

We will be starting the programme with Vikki Reynolds who we are delighted to welcome to IFT to share Practices of Solidarity with us in March and April.

Practices of Solidarity sessions

Institute of Family Therapy (ift.org.uk)

We are looking forward to the long awaited Supervision conference in May and are delighted to have speakers joining us from our partner agencies across the country, including Birmingham, Exeter and Glasgow. We realise that it has been quite a process to bring this together and hopefully it will be smooth sailing from here on in, but if not do let us know anytime and we will see what we can do to help.

National Supervision Conference (3 days) – Institute of Family Therapy (ift.org.uk)

Vicki Reynolds


We continue to work to deliver systemic training to many different contexts and have partnership working with local authorities in Kent, Somerset, Harrow, Haringey, Newham, Barnet, Southampton Waltham Forest, Havering, and new partners in the offing.

We have completed satellite courses in other contexts including in the health service for teams working with children with disabilities and with a group working with families in Orthodox Jewish Communities, and an adolescent counselling service in the third sector. We also continue our work providing training through e-learning to family lawyers – we have learnt a lot through undertaking the project and we are pleased with the results.

We continue to develop our international links. IFT has just returned from marking the oral examinations for our long standing partner NORCE in Bergen, Norway, which is always a pleasure and where we are happy to say all students passed.

We are also delighted to have formed a new relationship with The Western Norway University
of Applied Sciences in Bergen whom we will be co- hosting a 2 day conference on systemic work in schools lending the expertise provided by IFT members Brenda McHugh and Neil Dawson.

Our AGM will take place on 20th April at 5pm – thank you to everyone who attended the last one on-line or in person. We will send reports prior from the Board of Trustees and look forward to seeing you then.

We are very thankful for the progress we have made thus far, and excited for the future, and we thank you wholeheartedly for your support. We know there is a lot of change and these are uncertain times – we are not alone in this as an organisation. If you have any questions, comments, ideas, or contributions you wish to make, please do talk to us.

Rachel Watson, Taiwo Afuape, Nana Bonsu, Sumita Dutta, Ashley Reid

Other News

IFT Members Publications

Gross, V. & Goldin, J. (2008) Dynamics and Dilemmas in Working with Families in Inpatient CAMHS. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry Hildebrand, J. & Markovic,

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IFT connections ‘down under’

We are pleased to announce that IFT has formed a ‘twinning’ relationship with The Bouverie Centre, Melbourne. The Bouverie Centre is the leading family therapy

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Agency Based Training at IFT

Agency based training has become a significant pathway for the Institute to share systemic ideas and practices with Social Care and Health professionals. Since the

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